Sign of the (Lap) Times: Thunder Valley

Sign of the (Lap) Times: Thunder Valley

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By Chase Stallo and Jason Weigandt

Backward World: It's not often that you don't want a rider on your team to win a moto, but one has to wonder if that's what was going through Roger DeCoster's head during the second 450 moto at Thunder Valley. If Ryan Dungey had caught and passed Ken Roczen, it would have also delivered the overall win to Yoshimura Suzuki's James Stewart. And on the flip side, when it became apparent that Stewart wasn't going to catch the leaders, the Suzuki crew was probably rooting for Dungey to get it done!

Stressful times for Jimmy Albertson, whose sprinter van broke down on the way to Thunder Valley. A new engine was needed, to the tune of roughly $10K. Albertson was able to get himself to the race, and a PayPal account was set up for fans who want to help get Top Jimmy back on the road. Check out his Instagram for the details.

USADA (the United States Anti-Doping Association) performed drug testing for the first time in the series. Red Bull KTM’s 450 dominators Ken Roczen and Ryan Dungey were both tested on Friday night and again on Saturday after the motos. The riders have done urine testing during Monster Energy Supercross, but this was their first blood test. “Based on what I saw just now, I’d much rather do the blood test because it’s just quick right in the arm and get up, get in, and get out,” said Dungey in the post-race press conference, and after testing. “That’s where the real stuff’s going to show up too. But doing both is good. I think it’s good for our sport. I really don’t know if it’s really all that dirty, but I think it’s really good that everybody’s stepping up and testing stuff like this. It’s sad if guys do that stuff and it’s very unfortunate, but at the same time it’s getting so intense and so physical. It’s always been a physical sport but nowadays it’s 35 minutes all out. It’s not just 20 minutes and then cruise the last 15. It’s just very high intensity the whole time and you’ve got to train hard.”

Although he isn't too keen on the track, Jason Anderson finished sixth overall at Thunder Valley.  Photo: Simon Cudby
Although he isn't too keen on the track, Jason Anderson finished sixth overall at Thunder Valley.  Photo: Simon Cudby

Although he grew up just outside the Colorado/New Mexico line, Rockstar Energy KTM’s Jason Anderson doesn’t thrive in high altitude. In the past Anderson has suffered from altitude sickness and while it wasn’t a factor this year, the track doesn’t seem to gel with the New Mexico native. “I ended up going 5-5 and this is a track I usually struggle with, so I feel like we're headed somewhat in the right direction,” said Anderson in a team statement.

Anderson’s teammate, Joey Savatgy, is still racing his way back into shape after missing nearly an entire year of racing. Still bothered by an off-season shoulder injury, Savatgy was much improved in his second race back going 12-13 for twelfth overall. “Made some improvements and we did better than we did last week. So I guess that's a step in the right direction,” said Savatgy in a team statement. “Overall it was good though. My shoulder is still bothering me, but I made it through two more motos healthy."

Let's take a look at the lap charts!

 450 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 4 2:04.772 4 2:06.959 Ryan Dungey
2 3 2:05.110 5 2:06.432 Trey Canard
3 1 2:05.133 4 2:06.269 James Stewart
4 2 2:05.165 8 2:06.134 Ken Roczen
5 5 2:06.019 3 2:08.395 Josh Grant
6 6 2:07.231 6 2:08.949 Andrew Short
7 7 2:07.323 11 2:08.884 Malcolm Stewart
8 8 2:07.564 9 2:08.887 Jake Weimer
9 9 2:07.700 9 2:08.817 Brett Metcalfe
10 10 2:07.713 10 2:10.046 Weston Peick

450 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:06.444 4 2:08.505 Ken Roczen
2 2 2:07.069 4 2:08.858 Ryan Dungey
3 3 2:07.156 4 2:10.246 James Stewart
4 4 2:07.506 2 2:10.767 Trey Canard
5 12 2:09.202 6 2:12.519 Jake Weimer
6 6 2:09.716 5 2:11.947 Josh Grant
7 5 2:09.747 6 2:11.668 Brett Metcalfe
8 7 2:09.778 3 2:12.244 Weston Peick
9 8 2:11.210 9 2:12.764 Malcolm Stewart
10 9 2:11.629 4 2:13.152 Andrew Short

250 Class Moto 1

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 2 2:07.634 5 2:10.567 Jessy Nelson
2 3 2:07.688 4 2:10.602 Justin Bogle
3 1 2:07.962 7 2:10.039 Jeremy Martin
4 9 2:08.191 6 2:12.581 Cooper Webb
5 4 2:09.185 4 2:10.630 Blake Baggett
6 5 2:09.637 8 2:11.103 Jason Anderson
7 7 2:09.806 3 2:11.957 Marvin Musquin
8 8 2:10.333 4 2:12.093 Cole Seely
9 6 2:10.579 10 2:11.961 Zach Bell
10 10 2:10.765 6 2:12.012 Justin Hill

250 Class Moto 2

Lap Rank Finish Best Lap In Lap Avg Lap Time Rider
1 1 2:10.013 8 2:12.074 Blake Baggett
2 6 2:10.570 7 2:13.768 Jeremy Martin
3 2 2:10.733 5 2:12.550 Justin Bogle
4 4 2:10.955 8 2:12.604 Marvin Musquin
5 3 2:11.296 8 2:12.933 Christophe Pourcel
6 5 2:11.757 7 2:13.111 Jason Anderson
7 8 2:11.828 5 2:14.424 Cole Seely
8 9 2:12.067 5 2:14.566 Jessy Nelson
9 7 2:12.274 5 2:14.554 Cooper Webb
10 34 2:12.855 6 2:15.281 Zach Bell

More news and notes:

TWENTY: Number of motos Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Blake Baggett went between moto wins. Baggett’s last win coming into Thunder Valley came in the first moto at Budds Creek a season ago.

So, what’s taken so long for Baggett and (what’s left) of the Pro Circuit team to get rolling? Like many teams, it boils down to new air forks that have completely changed the feel of the motorcycle, and render setups and notes from the previous year useless. Baggett says they’re working on suspension now and engine later. “First we have to get that power to the ground and then we’ll work on power,” he explained before practice. Baggett has spent the weeks testing and not actually dong 30-minute motos for training.

Justin Bogle is taking on more of a leadership role for GEICO Honda.  Photo: Simon Cudby
Justin Bogle is taking on more of a leadership role for GEICO Honda.  Photo: Simon Cudby

On a related note, this is the first time in the history of the Thunder Valley National (starting in 2005) that the Monster Energy/Pro Circuit Kawasaki team hasn’t attended press day. The team always used the extra track day to get dialed into the altitude, but team owner Mitch Payton tells us with EFI, it’s not really needed anymore. The bikes are darned close coming in, and a little bit of tuning with mapping on Friday puts them where they need to be. “This let us stay home an extra day and work on the other things we needed to work on,” explained Mitch.

In his third full season of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross, GEICO Honda’s Justin Bogle is beginning to take a leadership role on the team. With veteran Zach Osborne out, and Eli Tomac and Wil Hahn having moved up, the position is Bogle’s to field. “Stepping into that role as the kind of the veteran with experience, and the expectations, I guess you could say… is something I’ve been looking forward to for a couple of years now,” said Bogle in a recent feature on NBC Sports Network. (You can watch the feature in its entirety here) “The veteran” was happy following his first career podium. "It was tough battling Christophe Pourcel. He was definitely holding me back and making it a challenge to get around him. I eventually got into a good position and made the pass around him and into second. It was the best moto for sure."

Bogle’s GEICO Honda teammate Zach Bell is making strides in his second full season with the team. A crash in the waning moments of the second moto set Bell back, but he’s happy to be healthy and still on the bike entering round 4. “I'm just so glad I am healthy again,” said Bell in a team statement. “I'm really looking forward to next weekend. My speed and fitness are definitely getting much better. I need to work on those things more though. Not being on the bike for six months really hurt my stamina and fitness so it's hard to run up front with the top guys. I'm working slowly, but I'm getting better and better."

Did you know? Only two of the last eight MX Rookie of the Year recipients are inside the top five in points in their respective classes. A year after receiving the award, Jeremy Martin leads the 250 Class. Fellow Minnesota native, and 2007 Rookie of the Year, Ryan Dungey is second in the 450 Class. Those not inside the top five include: Jessy Nelson (2012), Malcolm Stewart (2011), Dean Wilson (2010), Kyle Regal (2009), Justin Barcia (2009), and Nico Izzi (2008).

It seemed like a great day for Honda Muscle Milk’s Trey Canard, who landed the Oakley Bomb Award with the fastest practice times, and mixed it up in the lead during moto two. He wasn’t totally happy, though. "I'm pretty frustrated with how the day ended up,” said Canard in a team statement. “My start wasn't great in the first moto but was still able to finish third. I got a really good jump in the second moto and was able to pull the holeshot. It was good to get out front and lead for a little bit but I wasn't very comfortable on the bike and just fell off the pace. We made a little change in between races and it didn't end up as well as we had hoped. I'm bummed because I got such a good start and hoped I could hang on to it, but I'm leaving healthy and with points."

Toyota JGR Yamaha’s Josh Grant was dealing with strep throat all week but stepped it up when it counted, getting good starts and logging solid 5-6 scores for fifth in the 450 Class. By the way, congrats to JGR’s Justin Brayton, who is now a new papa, with his wife Paige giving birth to a baby girl named Parker last week. Brayton, on the mend from foot and knee injuries, expects to race this weekend at High Point.

BTOSports.com KTM’s Matt “Beef” Goerke was back in action following a broken elbow in supercross. We asked Matt how he expected to do in his first race back and he said, “I have no idea.” Having about two weeks on the bike, he ended up doing pretty well, going 14-16 for 15th overall. Hopefully we’ll get to see what Goerke can do on his BTO bike healthy outdoors at some point!

Josh Grant battled strep throat all last week, but managed a consistent 5-6 day Saturday. Photo: Simon Cudby
Josh Grant battled strep throat all last week, but managed a consistent 5-6 day Saturday. Photo: Simon Cudby

Another great round for Fredrik Noren, who followed up his twelfth overall at Hangtown with a 16-14 for thirteenth overall in Colorado. There was actually a three-way tie for the position between Noren, Kellian Rusk and Matt Goerke, but Noren was given the spot due to his better finish in the second moto. Not bad for a guy who sometimes relies on his girlfriend to spin the wrenches and twist the nuts on the weekends!

It wasn't all great news for Noren following Thunder Valley as he got roosted with a rock and broke his "front tooth and cracked the bone between his front teeth."

More on the privateer front: Kellian Rusk had his second consecutive strong weekend finishing fourteenth overall in the 450 Class… Kyle Peters was seventh fastest in the 250 Class practice but was derailed by bike problems in the second moto… Tommy Weeck, in what is expected to be his last race until Washougal, went 17-18 for eighteenth overall in 450MX… In the 250 Class, Dillan Epstein and Jackson Richardson, who are not expected to travel east for High Point, finished eighteenth and twenty-second, respectively... After breaking his jaw in Monster Energy Supercross, second year pro Brady Kiesel is rounding into form outdoors, finishing sixteenth overall in 250MX… Matt Lemoine continues to lead the privateer charge, finishing fifteenth overall to nab “top privateer” honors.  

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